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A complementary suite of freshwater invertebrate based monitoring tools for citizen scientists

A group of people stand in a river and crowd around their nets as they check their samples, a grassy bank can be ssen in the backgroundAs the population continues to expand, and our dependence on the environment increases, it is more important than ever that we keep a close eye on the health of our water ecosystems. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of citizen science schemes available that enable people of all ages and knowledge levels to engage with and monitor the condition of their rivers.

Riverfly monitoring is a brilliant way for volunteers to carry out river health checks. Freshwater invertebrates spend the majority of their lifecycles as larvae living underwater, sometimes for years! The abundance and diversity of the invertebrate community present in a river is highly linked with the quality and quantity of the water surrounding them. This relationship means that invertebrates are excellent indicators of water quality which, when monitored, provide data that can be used in diagnostic testing. Similar to a blood test, by looking at what’s there and what isn’t, we can derive a wealth of information about their condition.

There are many Riverfly monitoring schemes around, so it can be tricky to understand why so many different schemes are necessary. To address this, together with our colleagues at Salmon & Trout Conservation, we have built a helpful one page document that explains how ARMI, the Extended Riverfly scheme (due to be launched nationally along the Urban Riverfly scheme at the 5th Riverfly Partnership conference at the Natural History Museum, London on 20 March 2020), Riverfly Plus and SmartRivers all fit together. They do provide different types of information for slightly different purposes, but are all hugely important in our efforts to conserve and protect riuvers and streams.

So, whether you choose to volunteer for one scheme, more than one or all of them, please know that your contribution is incredibly valued and from all of us at the Riverfly Partnership and Salmon & Trout Conservation, thank you.

For more information on ARMI and Riverfly Plus, including Extended Riverfly: www.riverflies.org

For more information on S&TC’s SmartRivers: www.salmon-trout.org/smart-rivers

The Riverfly Partnership wishes to thank S&TC Smart Rivers Project Manager, Lauren Mattingley for providing this article

 

ARMI and Riverfly Plus on the River Evenlode

river invertebrate identification guides rest against a sampling net alongside the banks of an autumnal riverRead Earthwatch Citizen Scientist John Pratt's blog about how he is using Freshwater Watch and ARMI to provide evidence of water quality issues on the River Evenlode: earthwatch.org.uk/blogs/248-fw-guest-blog

Riverfly Partnership Newsletter Vol. 4 Issue 3

image of a myfly on a green background with the words Volume four, issue three across it

Please Click Here for our latest newsletter. This issue contains information on the current status of ARMI, funding advice for coordinators, changes that may occur due to Brexit, and some details on the recent name changes of British mayflies.

If you have signed up for our newsletter you will receive this via email. In case you have not signed up but would like to, please click here.

Beautiful Identification Sheet; the True Mayfly or Greendrake by Lincolnshire Chalk Streams Project

Wonderful volunteers from the Lincolnshire Chalk Streams Project have been collaborating with the EA to create a set of beautiful identification sheets. A pair of true mayfly larvae, or greendrake are shown, The triangular shape of the markings on their bodies are pointed out with red labels

Click here for a PDF of their True Mayfly or 'Greendrake' identification sheet 

Rachel Graham, assisted initially by Jade Oliver has worked extensively on the identification sheets. The photographs have been supplied by John Boulton. The project is managed by Lincolnshire Chalk Streams Monitoring Officer Will Bartle, and the EA contacts who provided ecological expertise are Richard Chadd and Chris Extence. 

The Lincolnshire Chalk Streams Project is a collaboration between Anglian Water, Wild Trout Trust, Natural England, Lincolshire County Council, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, The Environment Agency, and their host; Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service. 

They have done outstanding work to improve and restore chalkstreams in Lincolnshire, as well as raising awareness and knowledge of chalk streams and their importance. In 2012 they were awarded the prestigious Bowland Award from the National Association for Areas of Outstanding national Beauty. This award acknowledges outstanding projects that achieve landscape scale conservation through partnership working.

We will be uploading more of their sheets in the future. We hope that you enjoy their wonderful work. 

Volunteer Hanifah Master writes about her experience monitoring rivers

 

I started to volunteer for the Mersey Rivers Trust after I noticed a misconnection in a local culvert and wanted to do something to help monitor that brook at different sites. I attended a River Guardian induction and training session and got paired up with another volunteer local to me and it has been almost a year since I began volunteering with the project.

 

It's great to know that the monthly data we input is being collated to be part of a database that will hopefully help map out the conditions of local waterways and the issues they face. I hope over time to get a better idea of the misconnections in my local area, and help assist in improving the local waterways for people and wildlife.

 

A woman conducts a kick sample in a river, she looks down at the net, the bankside and vegetation is visibel in the background

Naturally, I progressed onto doing the kick sampling training a few months later and wanted to understand how certain species of aquatic invertebrates can be an indicator of water quality. With certain species being less tolerant to pollution than others, I have also learnt that the presence or absence of a species can provide a brief snapshot of river health. Kick sampling, was my first real insight into aquatic invertebrates, and I was really surprised by the whole over world that exists on the stream bed of the river, I find it really fascinating!

 

I am very fortunate to be a volunteer in the Riverfly Partnership, as I have gained first-hand experience and knowledge. Furthermore, being responsible for surveying a set of sample sites really has opened my eyes as to why it is so important that we help protect, maintain and restore our waterways now more than ever.

 

Hanifah Master

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